Nigeria’s Chief of Staff, Femi Gbajabiamila behind my military arrest, says Segun Olatunji

The Editor of Firstnews online newspapers Segun Olatunji who recently regained freedom after fourteen days in military detention has fingered Chief of Staff to the President, Hon Olufemi Hakeem Gbajabiamila as source for his predicaments which almost consumed his life.

Penpushing reports that Olatunji made this known in an interview while recounting his ordeal, adding that his interrogator questioned him why he published a story about the Chief of Staff to the President of Nigeria, attempting to corner the sum of $US30billion and 66 landed property traced by President Tinubu’s Special Investigator, Jim Obazee, to one Tunde Sabiu Yusuf, a former aide to the immediate past President Muhammadu Buhari.

The frontline journalist said he was not interrogated until three days after arrest and detention by the military who put him in an underground cell and with hand and leg cuffs, which were not loosened until the right part of his body was becoming numb.

Penpushing further reports that he explained that up till now, he still feels the numbness on his right hand and leg, stressing that there was no prior warrant of arrest received from either the Nigeria Police or the Military, which carried out his abduction on March 15, 2024.

The editor raised the alarm that with what he went through in detention, his life is not save, adding that the three stern-looking Directorate Intelligence Agency (DIA Investigators, who grilled him accused him, firstly, of abusing the agency’s Chief of Defence Intelligence, Maj Gen Emmanuel Undiandeye in a story published on the website of First News as personalising his office; stating that whatever they meant by that wasn’t clear to him.

‘Even at the point of my abduction on March 15th, no warrant of arrest was presented to me by the heavily armed men, who stormed my residence to abduct me. It was more or less a commando operation against a defenceless and armless journalist’, he recalled.

‘The show of force by the armed men numbering over 20 was not only frightening but also embarrassing to me because innocent residents of my neighbourhood were scared stiff seeing such a large number of armed men. Many of the people had to scamper to safety in order not to be caught up in any possible incident of accidental discharge from the guns of the heavily armed men in the course of my arrest’.

Penpushing also reports that Olatunji said the Investigators didn’t contest the veracity of the Gbajabiamila story, which was published in January with caption,’ “How Gbajabiamila attempted to corner $30bn, 66 property Special Investigator traced to Sabiu.” but were mainly concerned about sources for that particular story.

‘They insisted I must disclose to them my sources at the Nigerian President’s office at Aso Rock Villa in Abuja for that particular story and even others First News had done on the happenings in the nation’s highest corridors of power’, he recalled.

‘They told me they were sure I had “insiders” in the Nigerian Presidency who had been feeding First News with information. The DIA Investigators also accused me of terrorism. This accusation I don’t understand because i don’t understand how this fits in to the purview of their investigation of my published stories’, Olatunji added.

‘I believe they were just trying to give a dog a bad name in order to hang it. However, before I was brought in for questioning, the DIA Investigators had already ransacked my two phones earlier seized from me since March 15th when the soldiers arrested me in my house in Lagos, in search of my sources for the Gbajabiamila story and others published by First News’.

‘It would interest you to know that my two cell phones seized from me on March 15th were not returned to me until that moment I was released from detention after 14 harrowing days! Earlier, they had forced me to give them the passwords to my cell phones, which enabled to have easy access to searching them throughout my two-week detention in the DIA cell’, he stated.

’I was abducted in my house, brutalized, dragged away in the presence of my crying wife, little children by 20 fully armed military men. ’Thrown into the back of the military vehicle, blindfolded by hostile-looking armed men like a criminal’

‘I was thrown into an underground cell, disrobed naked, humiliated with my right hand, leg chained in Cell 6 while I groan in pain, my right hand and leg still numb. ’On four different occasions, the military men changed their movements, re-routed their plans in a bid to release me on bail to the executives of Nigerian Guild of Editors, Nigerian Union of Journalists’

‘My wife, children and I traumatized, dislocated, hiding in different places daily for fear of attack by the military. My ulcer disease worsened inside the cell, denied my medication, Nigeria don’t have a truly free press’, Olatunju lamented

‘Inside the van, I was hemmed on both sides by two stern-looking armed men. Attempt by my wife to ascertain from my abductors where they were taking me was rebuffed by the stern-looking men and their boss, who I later identified as Col. Lawal’.

‘My wife and our two young children then started wailing as the armed men drove me away in their vehicles. At this point, I was overwhelmed by emotions seeing my wife and children crying and I too broke into tears inside of me’.

‘It was a harrowing experience for me and my family because my wife and children have now become traumatized by this incident. They had never seen such a large number of armed men in their lives, not to talk of the situation where these men actually came and suddenly took away their breadwinner to an unknown destination in such a Gestapo-like manner’.

‘Infact, I myself felt dejected seeing my wife and children crying and begging the armed men not to take me away. None of the armed men who came to arrest me gave any hint about where I was being taken. They had no time for such niceties’.

‘They were stern and fierce-looking. At first, I had thought they were taking me to the Directorate of Military Intelligence (DMI) in Apapa, Lagos, a military detention facility notorious for violation of human rights and killing of innocent citizens in the days of Military rule in Nigeria’.

‘But when the convoy got to the Sam Ethan Base of the Nigerian Air-Force in Ikeja, they entered the facility and drove straight to the front of the office of the National Air Defence Corps beside the Base’s hangar, where I was handcuffed and held in the van for more three hours with some of the armed men taking turns to watch over me. That was when it dawned on me that I was about to be flown to Abuja’.

‘After then, the journey began and I was driven close to the hangar inside the Nigerian Air-Force Base in Ikeja, where I was handcuffed. By then, the day had got dark and shortly afterwards, a light military aircraft landed and one of the armed men suddenly removed my eye glasses and pulled a blindfold over my faced’.

‘They then immediately dragged me into the military aircraft, which then took off. I was still handcuffed and blindfolded inside the aircraft and throughout the over one-hour fight to where I later learnt was Abuja, where my ordeal became intensified. I guess I was on that flight with only Col Lawal, who led the operation for my abduction and another soldier detailed to keep watch over me’.

‘Immediately the plane landed in Abuja, we hurriedly disembarked and I was thrown into a military vehicle and now placed in the middle of about two armed soldiers and then the journey to their office began. I was still handcuffed and blindfolded!’

‘When we got to their office or barracks, I guess at about midnight or so, Col Lawal immediately handed me over to an officer on duty, who quickly stripped me of my trousers and put cuffs on my legs too. The officer then dragged me into a dark underground building, where I was thrown into a dark cell with the hand and leg cuffs still not loosened.

‘My cell, Cell 6, was immediately locked up with big padlocks. I was then left in the dark cell, groaning from the pains from the hand and leg cuffs. Shortly after, an officer came and even tightened the cuffs on my right hand and leg, causing me very severe pains’.

‘I was then left in the cell in that terrible, painful state for about three days. After the officer had left, I heard the other inmates discussing in low tones that for me to have been so chained, I must have been a hardened criminal or committed a heinous crime against the Nigerian Government. That threw great fear into me’.

‘Anyway, by the time my hand and leg cuffs were loosened three days after, the right part of my body was already becoming numb due to improper flowing of blood in that part of my body. Up till now, I still have the numbness on my right hand and leg despite having received some medical treatment upon my release from detention.

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